Governor McMaster visits Holly Hill school impacted by Supreme Court ‘corridor of shame’ ruling



By Bill Burr
HOLLY HILL, S.C. (WCIV) — A state supreme court ruling in 2014 is getting renewed attention by state leaders. Abbeville County School District versus the State of South Carolina is a landmark case seeking the reform of state funding for poor, rural schools.

Holly Hill is where Governor Henry McMaster chose to begin his tour of 8 school districts affected the most by the Abbeville ruling on public education. Orangeburg County Consolidated School District 3 has a poverty problem. All 2,750 students are eligible for free or reduced lunch.

Students and faculty at Holly Hill Roberts Middle School took a break from classes to greet the governor and his wife, Peggy. They toured the school, which is one of five in District 3 that receives Title 1 funding.

School officials touted their STEM lab — a high-tech classroom. Orangeburg District 3 leaders say it’s an accomplishment considering they were one of the original school districts to take part in the Abbeville lawsuit. But they want the governor to believe this is anything but a corridor of shame.

“Hopefully he can see that we are the corridor of pride. We are the corridor of integrity. And we are the corridor of commitment to the students that we serve on a daily basis,” said Dr. Jesulon Gibbs-Brown, superintendent for the Orangeburg District 3.

Still, school leaders admit they’re challenged by recruiting and retaining qualified instructors.

“It’s very important to have teachers that come and they stay. So that stability is very important,” Dr. Gibbs-Brown said.

That’s what she said she told Governor McMaster. She wants to see state lawmakers create financial incentives for teachers. It’s an idea the governor says he’ll consider as South Carolina’s economy continues to grow.

“If we’re not educated and trained for these jobs, we can miss it. So i want to do all i can to understand exactly what we need to do to educate our young people,” Governor McMaster said.
The listening tour on these issues is just beginning. The governor promises to visit the seven other school districts considered to be most vulnerable.

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